Using Collocation to Boost Your IELTS Score – Key Word: circumstances

Key word: circumstances

1          Verb collocations

Use the correct form of these verbs:

adapt to            change                        depend on

die in                 investigate                   know

  1. The police are ____________ the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a substantial amount of money from the company accounts.
  2. If you saw somebody drowning, would you try to save them? => It would____________ the circumstances. If the sea was really rough, then no, but if it was in a lake, then I probably would.
  1. If we____________ more of the circumstances around the child’s death, the police would have a much better idea of where to start.
  2. In the world of medicine everything develops so quickly that you need to be able to____________ new and continually changing circumstances.
  3. I am sorry to say that at present you are not entitled to any benefit. Please contact this department if your circumstances____________ .
  4. The little girl ____________ very tragic circumstances when she ran out into the road.

2          Common adjective collocations

Complete the sentences with these adjectives:

exceptional                  exact                            happier

present                        suspicious                   unforeseen

  1. All essays must be handed in by the 12th of April. This deadline will only be extended in ____________ circumstances.
  2. Police said that there were no ____________ circumstances surrounding the woman’s death. They think she died of natural causes.
  3. She’s unlikely to accept the job – given her ____________ circumstances. She has a young family and an ageing parent to look after.
  4. The concert had to be cancelled due to____________ circumstances. The main singer became ill and had to be taken to hospital.
  5. The press are anxious to know how the pop star died. The police have yet to reveal the ____________ circumstances of his death.
  6. I wish we’d met again in____________ circumstances. Why do we only meet at funerals!

 3         Common expressions

Use the following words to complete the following sentences:

any                  certain                no

  1. I think abortion is justifiable in____________ circumstances. For example, if the mother might die, then I think it is right to go ahead.
  2. Under ____________  circumstances must you leave the children on their own.
  3. It’s never right to take a life, so we oppose capital punishment in____________ circumstances.

We often use ‘in / under / considering the circumstances’ to say that we understand and accept why or how somebody did something. Match the halves in the following:

  1. Under the circumstances, my parents coped very well when I told them I was leaving my wife.
  2. Considering the circumstances of the company at the time of the fire,
  3. After the bride didn’t turn up,
  4. In the circumstances, nobody could complain that the picnic was cancelled.
  5. Considering the circumstances of the takeover,

a          it just rained and rained all day long.

b          cancelling the wedding was the only thing to do in the circumstances.

c          It’s no wonder people were suspicious.

d          the union’s refusal to co-operate with the new management was perfectly understandable.

e          I thought they would have been very upset

Now go back and underline all the expressions with circumstances in this exercise.



1.         In 3-2 ‘under no circumstances’ or ‘not under any circumstances’ is a common expression meaning ‘never’.

2.         Note the following:

The fees charged for the course will vary according to individual circumstances.

They have been forced by circumstances to sell their house.

3.         A common excuse for delayed flights or trains is ‘circumstances beyond our control’.




Ex 1:

  1. investigating 2. depend on 3. knew 4. adapt to 5. change 6. died in

Ex 2:

  1. exceptional 2. suspicious 3. present   4. unforeseen 5. exact 6. happier

Ex 3:

  1. certain             2. no               3. any

4-e       5-c       6-b       7-a       8-d

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